Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2005.
This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at email@example.com.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 50: Obscure poker tips brings forth enviable profits
People tend to feel superior about their intelligence. Do you think poker players are any different than your everyday people? Indeed not! In fact, they probably excel in their arrogance.
Mike states, “For everything we know, there was a time five minutes earlier when we didn’t know it. Some say I’m an egomaniac. I guess they’re right. Maybe I could sit at the final table in Life’s egomania world championship. But, you know what? I wouldn’t win. And the reason I wouldn’t win is simply that I realize that for every concept that I have mastered and swear by, there was a long period of ignorance that preceded it.”
List of Mike’s Wisdom
I’m going to list some of Mike’s poker wisdom below that possibly some of your opponents will be unaware of when you sit at the table with them. Hopefully you’ll profit from their lack of this knowledge. Just remember, you were either totally unaware of these obscure poker tips until now — or there was a point in your history when you were unaware of them.
- Mike advises you to hesitate a moment before you bluff. You could make your opponents wary by betting quickly or waiting too long, which in turn could entice them to call. Players look for any reason to call. Any movement or sound from you can make your opponent suspicious and that instigates his calling reflex.
- If an opponent, after betting, clears his throat, he almost always has a medium-strong hand. Rarely will a woman do this. Maybe we would clean our glasses, pat our hair, check our nails, instead. Mike doesn’t say. He does say that the throat clearing is a way of psychologically preparing for what is to come. Players bluffing won’t do this. They tend to be very still and very quiet. Players with strong hands are confident and don’t need to bolster themselves.
- When you’re sure that you have an excellent hand, and you want to be called, trying betting two-handed. Mike says he has found this to be quite successful. It looks suspicious to many opponents and wins the call that you’re seeking.
- If you’re talking to an opponent, when the hands are dealt, and he glances at his cards and doesn’t miss a beat in their conversation, you can pretty much assume he’s going to fold. If a player receives good cards, he’s going to pause to consider what his move should be. He’ll try to imagine how to make the most money with those cards. Therefore, if he stumbles in the conversation before acting on the cards, you can assume he’s got a playable hand. And any bet that follows means strength.
- Threatening to call after checking is a good way to maximize your sandbagging profit. If you’ll make a remark or gesture, indicating that you’re thinking of calling, players may be inclined to bluff. And certainly they’ll feel safer betting medium-to-good hands. They think you either will call or you won’t, and it’s worth the risk. They don’t stop to consider that you might just raise.
- Many times opponents are playing out of their league. They are playing for higher stakes than they are accustomed to. Therefore, they are uncomfortable, and will probably only call with mediocre hands instead of raising. They are also easily bluffed. These opponents, ones who call too often, but don’t raise often enough with the best hands, are easier to profit from.
- Don’t discourage calls, even if you could make more money if everyone passes. The calls that you could be discouraging could be weak hands that could earn you extra money. You want your opponents to play those hands. Those are easy pickings.
- “Caro’s Great Law of Betting”: Mike says that you should only bet if the value of betting is greater than the value of checking. Checking can have value as a poker weapon. It is a deceptive play. By checking and then calling or raising, you could earn more than by betting and hoping to be called.
These are some words of wisdom that until a few minutes ago you were possibly unaware of. Now you are possessed of further knowledge that you can use against your next opponents. But don’t be arrogant. Mike says, all truth we discover was previously undiscovered. So, remember — for everything you think is obvious, there was an earlier time when it wasn’t. — DM